Hillary: What is the most magical/terrifying place you’ve visited?
Starlene: Iceland (Most magical!) I went there in 2015 to do the Laugavegur Trek, which is in the southern portion of Iceland. I have never encountered such a desolate land. Devoid of people; devoid of any trace of civilization; devoid of TREES. But such stark, untouched beauty! Glaciers, lunar-like landscapes, volcanoes, mountains, steaming fumaroles, Icelandic horses. I vividly remember a moment when we stopped for lunch on day three (I think) of our hike: I was on a mountainside covered with moss and tiny pink and purple flowers. Below me, a lake shimmered in the distance. I looked past the lake into the mist-enshrouded mountains. Peaks like cathedrals stretched as far as my eyes could see. I had this strange sensation that I was in Middle Earth, and that it would not be at all surprising if I saw a dragon winging its way between the gaps in the peaks.
Hillary: How does place generally fit into your writing?
Starlene: I am a geography professor, so “place” is something that fits into everything I do–including my writing. All of my published work showcases PLACE prominently. I believe that place informs perspective, and so we cannot truly separate ourselves from it. My first published story was set in Detroit, and that PLACE was the center around which the story pivoted. It has often been said of my work that the location is as much a character in the story as the characters themselves. Well, I hope so!
Hillary: What is one place that is top of your to-go list and why?
Starlene: Do you know how hard this question is? Three places jump to the front of my mind, and they all start with the letter “R”: Russia, Rwanda, Romania. In the end….I’m going to go with Romania. Transylvania, anyone? Carpathian mountains? Dracula, werewolves…oh my goodness! The sheer “vibe” of this region is undeniable and irresistible. I cannot wait to sink myself into its legend and lore!
Starlene Justice been teaching geography for over 10 years—most recently, as a tenured faculty member at Norco College in southern California. As a geographer, it could be said that place is her area of expertise! In addition to her degrees in geography and social science, she also holds an MFA in creative writing. Her published works include pieces of fiction, creative nonfiction, and one article on historical geopolitics. She lives with her husband, two sons, and a plethora of cats, dogs, and other pets. Writing, traveling, hiking, and horses are a few of her great loves.